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Culzean Wells team gets “virtually ready” with Drill the Well on Simulator (DWOS)

Culzean Drilling Superintendent, Jamie Hardie, explains how the Culzean Wells team have been using a state-of-the-art simulator at Robert Gordon University (RGU) to prepare for work on Maersk Highlander.


“As the Maersk Highlander arrived at the Scottish port of Invergordon, the teams who will soon call this rig home stepped into the virtual world. The aim was to strengthen their shared understanding of the challenges ahead.

“Soon, the drilling of the first Culzean production well will begin and the Culzean team comprising Maersk Drilling, Maersk Oil and service company personnel are well prepared to rise to the challenge.

“The DART® facilities in Robert Gordon University (RGU), which uses a state-of-the-art simulator, replicates the Maersk Highlander, enabling the team to practice the drilling procedures and tackle the problems they may face while drilling. It’s invaluable to get this practice in upfront; the Culzean reservoir is extreme with temperatures up to 175 degrees Celsius and pressures up to 13,500 psi. The challenging conditions mean it is of the upmost importance that we are thoroughly prepared.

“Teaming up with RGU to virtually drill a Culzean well was a valuable experience. The drilling simulator was fantastic and the scenarios really brought the wells to life. The Culzean project has truly embraced technology throughout its development so it was a natural progression to incorporate virtual reality as we prepare the team.

“Human factors specialists from RGU were also brought in throughout the sessions to help the teams understand the non-technical, as well as the technical, aspects of the operation. This was especially important and helped us to understand and manage how our behaviours influence the decisions and actions of the team when drilling a well.

“Teams worked for five months to build the simulator model and to develop the training programme to virtually drill a Culzean well. We used a virtual replica of the Highlander rig and experienced the same conditions as we will face when drilling begins in reality later in the year. Feedback throughout the sessions was excellent with many of the drilling teams commenting that they had relished the opportunity to practice operating the rig and tackling the drilling challenges. The shared knowledge and experience will help the teams to confidently navigate the complex challenges ahead.

“The training was also a great opportunity to collaborate with the Maersk Drilling and service company teams as a single Culzean Wells team. This has been particularly valuable as we are starting a new design, new build rig with a newly constructed team following the recent change of rig owner. Everyone has embraced the one team approach that will help us drill the Culzean wells successfully and efficiently, but most importantly safely.”


By drilling the well on simulator with Drilling Systems’ simulators, multiple variations of well design and drilling operation can be tried and tested in a safe environment to determine the most cost-effective method of well delivery which ultimately reduces well spread costs.